Thursday, September 21, 2017

Flavours of tea customised for customers

Ma Nyein Aye Tun pours tea at the La Pyae Wun teashop on upper block of 34thStreet in downtown Yangon. (Seng Mai / The Myanmar Times / November 2, 2012)Ma Nyein Aye Tun pours tea at the La Pyae Wun teashop on upper block of 34thStreet in downtown Yangon. (Seng Mai / The Myanmar Times / November 2, 2012)

The customer’s always right, or so the saying goes. For Yangon’s myriad teashops, where the customer’s needs are the limit, that adage has led to the introduction of countless variations on the humble cup of tea.

And they all come with their own unique name, whether it’s a cup of kya seint, ah cho pawt, pone mhan, or sheh that you’re after.

“It all depends on the customer,” says Ma Nyein Aye Tun, who runs the La Pyae Wun teashop on upper block of 34thStreet in the downtown area. “There are some who prefer bitter tea, so they ask for more ah kyar yay. …Women prefer sweet [tea], while men like pan (bitter) tea.”

The style of the tea maker also influences the flavour.

“The brewers have different techniques – the amounts of condensed or evaporated milk added vary from one another, for example,” Ma Nyein Aye Tun, 22, said.

Ko Hla Tun has been brewing tea at Shwe Padaut Yeit on Bo Aung Kyaw Road in Kyauktada township for eight months.

He says regular tea is brewed by steeping the leaves in hot water and “pulling” the resulting liquid, known as ah kyar yay, using two cups until the raw tea leaf smell has disappeared.

After adding spoonfuls of condensed and evaporated milk to the waiting tea cup, the tea maker adds the ah kyar yay and boiling hot water into the cup, and tea is made.

Boiling water is added only to some teas, such as ah pawt seint and ah cho seint, to tone down the biting flavour of the ah kyar yay.

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